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Metro Man had got it right

india Updated: Jan 09, 2009 00:08 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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It was in September that Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chairperson E. Sreedharan had questioned the government’s decision to give the Hyderabad Metro project to Maytas Infrastructure, company promoted by Ramalinga Raju’s son Teja Raju.

With the unearthing of Rs 7,000 crore fraud at Satyam Computers, his concerns regarding public-private partnership (PPP) model of Hyderabad Metro in which the alignment of the project was changed to suit the private bidders seem to have hit home.

The Andhra Pradesh government has already announced a review of its decision on Maytas Infra even as the company’s chairman and non-executive director R.C. Sinha resigned on Thursday, citing “personal reasons”.

Sreedharan, in a letter to the Planning Commission in September, had pointed out that the build operate transfer (BOT) model was prepared to suit the private bidders, even hinting at Maytas Infra, the successful bidder, having a hidden

“It’s apparent that the BOT operator has a hidden agenda which appears to be to extend the metro work to large tracts of his private land holdings, so as to reap a windfall profit 4-5 times the land price,” Sreedharan said. The project would turn into a big scam as the alignment of the metro lines was changed to ensure more profit for the bidders, he had warned.

The letter created a storm. The state government sought an unconditional apology from Sreedharan and removed DMRC as project consultant. The Planning Commission, too, had termed the concerns as misconceived.

Sreedharan had said he was against the PPP model for metro projects as huge public land was being given to private operator for free.

“The Hyderabad Metro project is being cited as a successful example of BOT approach. Here, I would like to caution that the example of Hyderabad Metro is quite misleading as the negative viability gap funding has resulted solely on account of 296 acres of prime land being made available to the BOT operator for commercial exploitation,” he had said.